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Fresh This Week Tips – July 19, 2011

FENNEL:

STORE: Store fresh fennel in the refrigerator crisper, where it should keep fresh for about four days. However, it is best to consume fennel soon after purchase since as it ages, it tends to gradually lose its flavor.

USE: The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks and stews, while the leaves can be used as an herb seasoning. Try using Fennel to make an antipasto salad, with fish, onion soup or add it to a vegetable side like green beans for some extra flavor.

PREP: The three different parts of fennel—the base, stalks and leaves—can all be used in cooking. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the place where they meet. If you are not going to be using the intact bulb in a recipe, then first cut it in half, remove the base, and then rinse it with water before proceeding to cut it further. The best way to slice it is to do so vertically through the bulb.

RAINBOW CHARD:

STORE: Do not wash rainbow chard before storing it because exposure to water can encourage spoilage. Place chard in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag tightly around it, squeezing out as much of the air from the bag as possible. Place in refrigerator where it will keep fresh for up to 5 days. If you have large batches of chard, you can also blanch the leaves and then freeze them.

USE: Great in salads, chard can also be cooked. If you’re looking to cook your chard, one of the best ways to bring out the sweetest flavors is by boiling it for at least 3 minutes, but be sure to discard the water once it is fully cooked. This ingredient makes a great addition to many Italian dishes or breakfast frittatas.

PREP: Rinse chard under cold running water. Remove any area of the leaves that may be brown, slimy, or have holes. Stack the leaves and slice into 1-inch slices until you reach the stems. Cut stems into 1/2-inch slices discarding the bottom 1 inch portion.

CELERY:

STORE: To store celery, place it in a sealed container or wrap it in a plastic bag or damp cloth and store it in the refrigerator. If you are storing cut or peeled celery, ensure that it is dry and free from water residue, as this can drain some of its nutrients.

USE: There are many great ways to use celery both as a delicious snack and in a meal. Consider adding chopped celery to your favorite tuna fish or chicken salad recipe or include celery leaves in a salad. Try braising chopped celery, radicchio and onions and serve topped with walnuts and your favorite soft cheese.

PREP: To clean celery cut off the base and leaves, then wash the leaves and stalks under running water. Cut the stalks into pieces of desired length. If the outside of the celery stalk has fibrous strings, remove them by making a thin cut into one end of the stalk and peeling away the fibers.

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Fresh This Week Tips, July 12, 2011

GREEN BELL PEPPERS:

STORE: Proper storage can extend their useful life, preserve their nutritional value and help retain their flavor. Store green bell peppers for short-term use by refrigerating them in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. With proper refrigeration, a healthy bell pepper should last from three to five days in the refrigerator.

USE: Whether you eat them raw, roasted, or cooked, green peppers add a flavorful punch to any dish. Enjoy crunchy strips of raw bell peppers in your next vegetable platter, add soft pieces of roasted pepper to salads or sandwiches, or add them to stir-fries, soups and stews. Cooking green peppers in any form will be sure to bring out their sweetness.

PREP: When it comes to preparing bell peppers, first wash and dry them. Then, remove the stem by cutting around it in a circle. This gets rid of most of the seeds. When you look inside, you’ll see the white “ribs”; slice down the ribs, so that you have three or four pieces of pepper.

YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH:

STORE: It can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. When you’re ready to use it, wash the squash, then slice both ends off.

USE: Whether creating a delicious salad, grilling vegetables, or sautéing them for an extra touch, summer squash is a beautiful, simple, and easy addition to any summer dish.

PREP: To prepare squash, start by washing it off and drying it. Then, when you’re ready to use it, slice both ends off and cut it into the size pieces you need for whatever dish you are preparing.

BEETS:

STORE: Place beets unwashed in a cool place, like the refrigerator crisper, in a plastic bag where they will keep for two to four weeks. To increase storage life, remove the greens, but be sure to leave at least an inch of the stem. Use gloves to prevent staining if that’s a concern.

USE: Beets make a great addition to sweeter summertime dishes. Whether you make them in a glaze, roast them for a refreshing salad, slow cook with a delicious roast, or sauté them with greens, beets add a beautiful color and flavor to almost any meal.

PREP: Wash the beets whole, and trim to one inch from the stem to minimize bleeding before placing on a baking sheet. After cooking, trim off about 1/4 inch of the beet roots. Then rub off the skins, which should slip off easily after cooking.

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Fresh This Week Tips – July 6, 2011

DAPPLE SUPREME PLUOTS

STORE: Pluots continue to ripen once off the tree, unless they are completely hard. Turn pluots upside down and leave them on the counter, out of the sun. When they reach the desired ripeness, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator up to three days.

USE: Pluots taste the best at room temperature and when they are eaten out of hand. This is because when cooked, the skins can verge on the bitter side. Pluots can stand in for plums in almost any recipe, and show especially well in crisps, pies and tarts, as well as sliced and tossed into summertime fruit salads.

PREP: Plouts should be washed before use. The skin is fine to eat, but for a mellower, sweeter flavor they can be easily skinned. This can be done with a normal peeler, like you would a tomato.

CHERRIES:

STORE: Store cherries in the refrigerator to keep them cold and humid, conserving their nutrients and flavor. Cherries are highly perishable; so it is best to use them as quickly as possible.

USE: Cherries are a common staple in many dessert recipes from pies to the final topping on a sundae. However, consider adding this fruit to savory dishes as well, like with pork chops or bruschetta.

PREP: Handle cherries with care. Be sure to rinse them off under water and mix them with lemon juice or a fruit salad with acidic fruits to keep them from darkening if you choose to slice or peel them.

BLACK SPLENDOR PLUMS:

STORE: Plums ripen at room temperature; the quality is decreased by refrigeration. However, once ripe they should be refrigerated, and will keep for up to 5 days.

USE: A ripe plum is a great snack to eat on its own. They are also a great addition to a number of pastries and other sweets, such as tarts, pies, cobblers, pudding or crumbles. Plums make a delicious addition to fruit and vegetable salads as well.

PREP: Plums should be washed before use. The skin is perfectly fine to eat, but if you’re looking for a sweeter flavor they can be easily skinned.

FRESH FRUIT COBBLER:

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup sliced fresh peaches
3/4 cup peeled, cored and sliced pluots
3/4 cup peeled, cored and sliced pear
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup pitted and sliced cherries
1/2 cup pitted and sliced plums
1 egg
3/4 cup Sucanat/Evaporated Cane Juice, or honey
1/4 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2 quart baking dish.
  2. Arrange the peaches, apple, pear, blueberries, cherries, and plums in the prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl, beat egg, sweetener, and milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the egg mixture. Stir in vanilla and melted butter. Cover the fruit with the batter mixture.
  4. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Cobbler should be bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm.

Recipe Courtesy of AllRecipes.com

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Fresh This Week Tips – June 21, 2011

GINGER:

STORE: Fresh ginger will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. Since freezing makes it easier to peel, slice and crush, you might as well freeze it as soon as you get it.

USE: Ginger can be used in Indian curries, and in Chinese, Japanese, and European spice blends, or in the always-popular ginger snap cookie! You can also add ginger flavor without any texture by juicing the root. Extract juice from a small piece of ginger by putting it through a garlic press. A juicer can handle much bigger chunks and extra juice can be frozen in ice cube trays.

PREP: To properly prep ginger, start by taking a “hand” and separate it into “fingers” Cut off any protruding “nubs” with your knife and then peel with the edge of a soup spoon using a downward scraping motion. Using the edge of a spoon is not only quicker, but it will result in a better yield since all that’s being removed is the ginger’s paper-thin skin. Next, cut the peeled ginger “finger” into round chunks about a quarter to a half inch thick. Using a traditional mincing motion, mince ginger to desired size.

ZUCCHINI:

STORE: Keep the zucchini in a cool place and store, if needed, in a perforated plastic bag. That will allow this vegetable to last approximately a week without perishing. Don’t store a zucchini in the refrigerator if at all possible. The cold inside the unit is not the best environment for a zucchini and can prematurely age it. Fresh zucchini doesn’t freeze very well. So if you want to freeze it, cook it in a recipe and then freeze the dish.

USE: Zucchini’s make a great and colorful addition to almost any dish. Whether you chop them up and roast them in a hot oven with olive oil and salt. They go well with tomatoes and onions, and add some herbs like oregano or thyme if you like. Or consider cutting them in half, scooping out the seeds and making zucchini boats to cook in the oven. The beauty is they can be stuffed with almost anything.

PREP: When it comes to preparing zucchini’s, the beautiful thing about this vegetable is that it’s hard to go wrong. Dicing, slicing, or mincing, this vegetable tastes great with the outer layer on or off. Simply rinse it off with water and enjoy them raw, cooked, boiled, or roasted.

KIWI:

STORE: Kiwis are a very simple fruit to please. You can keep a ripe kiwi for several days in your fruit bowl at room temperature. If you’re looking to keep it for an extended period of time, putting it in the refrigerator will make it last up to four weeks. When you’re ready for it, bring it out and allow it to ripen.

USE: Kiwis are a beautiful fruit and their sweet, green insides look fantastic when combined with raspberries, blueberries, oranges, and other fruits. They’re terrific pureed! You can use the puree to sweeten strawberries or raspberries, drizzle it over ice cream, or put it in ice cube trays, freeze, and eat like sorbet (there’s no need to add sugar).

PREP: While some believe you need to peel a kiwi in order to eat it, let us be the first to tell you, you don’t! Simply washing a kiwi will suffice. The thin brown skin does not taste bitter, and it holds the fruit together for eating out of hand.

KIWI ICE POPS:

Ingredients:

–  1 3/4 cup(s) water

–  1 cup(s) sugar

–  4  kiwis

–  1/2 cup(s) (about 4 limes) fresh lime juice

Directions:

    1. Make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Set aside to cool.
    2. Make the ice pops: Using a paring knife, cut kiwis into quarters, peel, and remove the white core and seeds from each piece. Place the seeded kiwi pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée to a liquid — about 1 minute.
    3. Combine the puréed kiwi, 3/4 cup syrup, lime juice, and remaining 3/4 cup water in a large bowl.
    4. Pour the mixture into molds and freeze until solid, for about 6 hours.

      *Recipe courtesy of Countryliving.com

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      Fresh This Week Tips – May 5th, 2011

      CAULIFLOWER

      STORE: Store cauliflower for up to one week in your crisper covered by a plastic or paper bag.

      PREP: Keep whole and chop off ¼ inch off the stem or cut the head into bite-sized florets.

      USE: Steam, roast, bake or stir fry cauliflower. Be careful not to overcook!

      MURCOTT TANGERINES

      STORE: Quite perishable, Murcotts keep only a day or two at room temperature and up to one week refrigerated.

      USE: Use Murcott tangerines as you would other varieties. Their sweetness pairs well with butter-based sauces and may be added to vinaigrette. Mix tangerine juice with grapefruit juice, sugar and water, then freeze into sorbet. Add tangerine sections to green salads with toasted pecans and goat cheese.

      SUGAR SNAP PEAS

      STORE:  Refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag. They’ll last four or five days.

      PREP: Many sugar snap varieties have a tough fibrous string that runs the length of the pea and should be removed before cooking. Fold back the stem and pull — the string will unzip quite easily. Check carefully; some varieties have strings on both sides (just repeat the stem operation from the opposite end). Cook sugar snaps very briefly to preserve their flavor and crunch.

      USE:

      Raw

      •           The pod can be left whole and served with your favorite dip.

      •           The peas can be removed from the pod. Puree the raw peas in a food processor or blender and fold the puree into your favorite dip.

      •           Snap the whole pea pod into 1-inch pieces and add to salads—vegetable, macaroni, chicken, etc.

      Cooked

      •           Use instead of snow peas in oriental dishes.

      •           In stews or soups, add whole or in pieces, 2 minutes before serving—just long enough to heat thoroughly.

      •           Stir-fry as you would any vegetable.

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      Fresh This Week Tips 03.30.2011

      RHUBARB
      STORE: Before storing, remove any leaves from the rhubarb stalks and discard. Rhubarb stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, unwashed and sealed in an air tight plastic bag or tightly wrapped in plastic. It is best to store fresh rhubarb in whole stalks because cut or diced pieces will dry out more quickly. Trim just before using. Rhubarb can be frozen for future use by cutting the stalks into 1-inch lengths and packaging in airtight bags or by stewing first and then freezing. Rhubarb does not need to be sweetened before it is frozen.

      PREP: Trim off leaf ends and roots using a sharp knife and discard. Be sure to discard the leaves, which contain toxic levels of oxalic acid. If the more mature stalks are wider than 1 inch, slice lengthwise in half or thirds. Check stalks for blemished areas and trim off before using. When preparing field-grown rhubarb the stems may be too fibrous and will need to have the strings pulled off. At one end of the stalk, cut just under the skin.

      Pull the piece down the stalk to remove the strings. Continue until all of the strings are removed. When preparing hothouse-grown rhubarb the stems are tender and should not be stringy.
      Wash stalks and slice them into 3/4 inch to 1 inch pieces when preparing for stewing or making sauce. Pies and other recipes may call for the pieces to be cut to a smaller size, such as 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

      USE: Rhubarb can be eaten raw with a little sugar sprinkled over it but it is generally cooked with other ingredients to produce a fruit dish of some type. Rhubarb can be used nicely to enhance the flavor of other fruits, such as pairing it with strawberries in baked sauces or beverages. It makes a delicious pie filling and is also used to make sauce in the same manner as applesauce. Rhubarb can also be used to make jellies, jams, cakes, muffins, and other desserts. It can also be used in savory dishes and is good as a sauce to serve with meats and fish.

      BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES

      STORE: Tomatoes are best stored and eaten at room temperature because their flavor is more pronounced. A very firm tomato can be kept at room temperature for about a week. Transfering them to the refrigerator to will slow their ripening, but can also result in loss of flavor. Softer tomatoes should be used as soon as possible, so they don’t become mushy or rot. Freezing: Tomatoes cooked into sauces, juiced or simply pureed can be frozen for up to six months.

      PREP: Here are some tips on preparing your tomatoes:
      – Wash tomatoes in cold water before use.
      – Slice tomatoes vertically for salads and sandwiches to prevent the juice and seeds spilling out.
      – For stuffed tomatoes, cut them horizontally to remove the seeds and juice.
      – To peel your tomatoes, mark an X on the bottom of each one and place them in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, then plunge them into cold water. The skins should come off easily.

      USE: Tomatoes are essential in a variety of cuisines, including those of Italy and Central American. Use them to make pasta sauces, salsas, soups or eaten raw to garnish salads. Cherry tomatoes can also be roasted whole and served alongside with meats. Broil tomato halves topped with bread crumbs and herbs for a healthy vegetable side dish. Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeños for a spicy salsa to accompany chips.

      BLOOD ORANGES
      STORE: Store blood oranges at room temperature for up to 1 week, or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
      USE: Add the raspberry-colored flesh to green salads, fruit salads or get adventurous and make Blood Orange Sorbet, taste the freshness of spring!
      Blood Orange Sorbet recipe:

      Blood Orange Sorbet

      1. Juice your blood oranges. The measure the juice.

      2. For each 1 cup (250ml) of juice, figure 1/4 cup (50g) of granulated sugar to be added.

      For example: Use 1/2 cup (100g) sugar for 2 cups juice (500ml).

      3. Put the sugar in a small, non-reactive saucepan. Add just enough juice to saturate it very well. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

      4. Stir the sugar back into the reserved blood orange juice.

      5. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker.

      Recipe from:  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/blood-orange-so/

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      Fresh This Week Tips – Feb 22, 2011

      BABY BOK CHOY – As far as cabbages go, baby bok choy are pretty irresistible!

      STORE: Place in a plastic bag — but do not close — and refrigerate for no more than three days.
      PREP: There is no need to cook the stalks and leaves separately – just wash the whole and drain and cut into small pieces.
      USE: Bok Choy is normally used in stir-fries. But when the time comes to start cooking, you’ll find that bok choy is extremely adaptable. Boiling, steaming, stir-frying and even deep-frying are all possibilities. When stir-frying, a good basic method is to stir-fry the bok choy for a minute, sprinkling with a bit of salt, then add a small amount of water or chicken broth (about 3 tablespoons per pound of bok choy) cover, and simmer for 2 minutes.

      RED BELL PEPPERS
      STORE: Store peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
      PREP: Wash peppers just before using; remove the stem, seeds, and interior membranes, and add to salads, soups, or stir-fries.
      USE: Peppers can be sautéed, steamed, or baked. Roast peppers by holding them over an open flame, or broiling them about 1/2-inch (1.25cm) from the broiler flame and rotating every minute or so until they blacken evenly. Put charred peppers in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes, then pull off the blackened peels and rinse the peppers under cold water. Pat dry, remove seeds and stems, and slice peppers. Use roasted pepper slices in salads, or purée in soups.

      BUNCH CARROTS
      STORE: Always remove tops from carrots as they take moisture from the “root” to stay green, leaving you with a limp carrot. Store carrots in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel to reduce the amount of moisture that is lost. They should keep for about two weeks. Be sure to store your carrots away from apples, pears, potatoes as they produce a gas that will make carrots bitter.
      PREP:  Wash carrot roots and gently scrub them with a vegetable brush right before preparing them to eat. Peel (if desired) and chop according to your recipe or their purpose.
      USE: You can steam, pickle, puree (for carrot soup!), juice, eat them raw or add them to any number of soups, stews and stir fries.

      Do you hear what we hear? It is stir-fry time. See recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Stir-Fry/Detail.aspx

      Images from flickr.com

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      Fresh This Week Tips 02.02.11

      Red d’Anjou Pears – These are ready to eat now!

      STORE:

      Refrigerate ripe pears for up to 5 days.

      PREP:

      If you’re serving uncooked pears, cut them just before using; sprinkle the flesh with lemon juice to prevent browning.

      USE:

      Red D’anjous can be enjoyed like an apple, or try baking, roasting, sautéing, or poaching in wine; when cooking, use fruit that is still firm.

      Avocados:

      STORE:

      Avocados should be stored at room temperature to allow them to ripen to their desired stage. Place in a brown paper bowl or in your fruit basket to ripen them.

      The avocados in this week’s box are a variety called Bacon Avocado. These have an exceptionally bright green color, even when ripe, and don’t store long, so enjoy within a day or two of delivery! Bacon avocados are known for their delicious string-free flesh & mild flavor. The fruit is typically softer to the touch than your usual Haas avocado, so be careful not to squeeze when handling. Test for ripeness by gently feeling the wide end of the avocado. There should be a slight soft impression when its ready to eat.

      PREP:

      To peel, grip the avocado gently on one side with one hand. With a large, sharp knife in the other hand, cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed. Open the two halves to expose the pit. At this point there are a few ways you can proceed to remove the pit from the avocado half that has the pit. One way is to make another cut, lengthwise on the avocado half that has the pit, cutting around the pit, exposing it so that it is easier to remove. You can also use a spoon to scoop out the pit.

      At this point, you can either scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon (for making guacamole), or slice the avocado into segments. To make it more easy to scoop out the avocado flesh, take a small dinner knife and gently make cuts in the avocado flesh in a cross-hatch pattern, careful not to break through the avocado peel. Then use a spoon to easily scoop out the avocado pieces. If you are making guacamole, don’t worry about slightly discolored or brownish sections. Scoop them up with the rest of the avocado to mash.

      Garlic

      STORE:

      Stored in a dark, cool place where air can circulate around it, garlic will keep for up to 2 months.

      PREP:

      Remove the outer, papery layer of skin and pull off individual cloves. If they’re tight and can’t easily be pulled free, use the ball of your hand to press and roll the head against your cutting board to loosen the cloves. To remove the skin of an individual one, crush the clove lightly and swiftly with the side of a broad knife, use a paring knife to cut each end off, and then peel away the skin. When sautéing garlic, do so briefly and over low heat under close monitoring; burned garlic is bitter.

      Images from flickr.com

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      Fresh This Week Tips 01.04.11

      Citrus: Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and grapefruit are loaded with vitamin C. They’re great for juicing, flavoring baked goods or marinades, or just eating out of hand. Here’s the best way to keep them fresh, juicy and tasty for as long as possible.

      STORE: Keep citrus fruit at room temperature for up to a week. Keep them in a cool dark place, out of direct sunlight, and be sure to check them regularly for spoilage.

      Extend the life of your citrus fruit by storing them in the refrigerator. Store them in a mesh, cheesecloth or perforated plastic bag. Avoid airtight containers, as these will collect condensation that can promote mold and spoilage. You may also store citrus fruit in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Refrigerated citrus may keep for up to several weeks.

      PREP: For the most juicy, intense flavor, allow citrus fruit to come to room temperature before eating or using. Wash citrus under running water before use.

      USE: You may grate the peel into “zest”, cut in half and squeeze the juice out for use in baked goods. Peel and slice to add to fruit salads or yogurt, or slice into segments and serve as a healthy snack after school.
      For more tips see http://www.sunkist.com/products/buying_storing_handling.aspx

      Red Potatoes

      STORE: Keep potatoes for up to 3 weeks in a paper bag in a cool, dark, dry place—never in plastic, in the refrigerator, or under a sink, as moisture speeds decay and refrigeration can darken them and adversely affect flavor.

      PREP:

      – Clean potatoes by scrubbing gently with a vegetable brush; peeling is optional, but any eyes should be removed.

      – Boiling potatoes in their skins helps them retain starch, which makes them fluffy, not mushy.

      – After they’re cut, prevent potatoes from browning by placing them in a bowl of cold water to cover.

      USE: Red potatoes are best for potato salads, gratins, roasted, scalloped, soups and chowders.

      Leeks

      STORE: Store your leeks lightly wrapped in plastic wrap to contain odor and moisture. Don’t trim or wash them before storing. Keep them in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to one week.

      PREP: Follow These Four Easy Steps*

      1. Cut off the dark green part: Slice off the leek’s dark green end, trimming to the part where the color is a pale green. You can save these ends to make stock, but they’re too tough to eat on their own.

      2. Cut off the end; slice stalk the lengthwise: Take the remaining white stalk, cut off the root end, and slice the leek in half lengthwise.

      3. Run leeks under water or chop: If you’re using leek halves intact, hold them under running water, separating the layers slightly to help dislodge the grit (for, say, roasting). Or, if your recipe calls for chopped leeks, skip this step and slice your stalks instead.

      4. Swish in water and strain: Dunk leek slices in a bowl of cool water, swishing to let grit sink to the bottom. Strain pieces to remove excess water.

      USE: Leeks are related to the onion, yet have a milder, mellower taste. Use your leeks in any recipe that calls for onions. Try out this delicious and home-warming Smashed Potato and Leek Soup:http://www.klesickfamilyfarm.com/main/box-of-good/recipes/smashed-potato-and-leek-soup

      * Original content from Real Simple Magazine.

      images from flickr.com